We visited San Juan, a local Totzil Indian village with powerful Mayan
They are very religious, and their religion has only the vaguest links to Christianity.
Some of the men carry long sticks, and are appointed to guard their church against
unwarranted intrusion. We could enter only under permit. Inside was a Catholicism
like none I had ever seen before. All the church was filled with candles, along the sides
in lines along the floor, in front of images of saints who never appear in the papal calendar.
All the church was filled with Totzil, chanting, separately,
individuals and groups, yet seeming
to harmonise, always in their own tongue.
Holy men in white moved from group to group to put their
hands over injured hands or arms. We were fascinated, transfixed,
and yet aware that we were intruders here in the sacred place of another
civilisation. We retreated. Just in time. Four entire coach loads of Mexican
hotel guides arrived, disgorging over a hundred northern Mexican hoteliers
in town on a toot. They sauntered past the guards with a Latin
failure to give a shit and straight into the church.
Photography was forbidden. "Photography of the church or religious festivals
is forbidden!" Carolyn was reading out loud from her guide book. We all
nodded solemnly, and tried to demonstrate the maximum respect for the local traditions.
We were glad we had. On emerging from the church we learned that two
tourists had been arrested - only that day! - for taking forbidden shots. Who could these
insensitive idiots be, we asked ourselves?
One of them was Carolyn. Noting a large group of men moving in a circle outside the very
doors of the church, she had decided that this could never have religious significance.
Acting with utmost
sensitivity pointed her 35mm with telescopic zoom lens straight at them from ten yards.
The rest of us took a step back on hearing the news, caught
between concern, and terrible, gut-splitting laughter. Hilarity won, and we could hardly
stay standing. Carolyn, released after paying a fine, took slightly longer
to see the irony. Suddenly, she could see the headlines, Indian Uprising in Chiapas,
Free-lance Photograher held Hostage! A Courageous Stand for Freedom of Speech!
We went to see an Indian family that Patrick knew. They treated us like honored guests,
showing us their weaving, tortilla making, and the local drink that they
brewed from sugar cane. This last was a firm favorite, and some time we left, strangely
loaded with - yes - even more blankets.
Palenque and those Eggs
Our final destination. Palenque. The bus was full now with other travellers. I had found Sara and Rolf,
two friends from Cuba, and they came with us in order to get me drunk enough
to buy their tent. Better luck next time guys. My digestive system was so super efficient by this time
that nothing stayed inside for long. We visited Agua Azul, and Misol-Ha, gorgeous tropical
waterfalls, and leapt around in the water. When I found myself straying onto
a tropical slimy patch, I nobly warned the others by uttering a high-pitched squeaking
noise and fluttering my arms weakly - two classic symbols of manly command.
Palenque is another giant Mayan city, lost in the jungle. Its great pyramids are
inhabited now only by howler monkeys and that other fabled denizen of the tropical
world, the overheated tourist, known for its daily ritual of wandering in seemingly meaningless
circles while cheeping sadly for water.
The ruins here, unlike Tikal, had many inscriptions, detailing such Mayan
traditions as preserving strength by not ejaculating, genital piercing, flattening
babies´ foreheads with wood, and best of all, sitting in a hot bowl of eggs to
gain energy via the rectum.
Again, I ask you, is it a suprise these people died out?
Of course, my group, having wandered in a tropical sun for no good purpose
and without adequate protection, went back to camp in order to deliberately
poison themselves with ethanol and carcinogenic smoke. So who´s to know.
I´m off to Canada now, largely
because I´m dying for some peanut butter. Central America has been great, as has
the funky tour. I haven´t laughed so
continuously in years. And you, my new friends and travelling companions, as
I muttered into my glass at 2am on the last night, my heart pulses for you all, just like
a well-egged rectum.